It's football season! I don't know about you, but in my family, football is big. There are many rivalries within the family that leads to months of trash talk and displays of allegiance by donning our school colors. While we tend to keep on the civil side of the rivalries when dealing with family members, anyone who has ever been to a sports bar and grill on a Saturday night from August to December knows how fiercely a team's legacy is defended. One thing you will never see is someone wearing an Auburn University jersey cheering over an Alabama University touchdown. It just doesn't happen. At least not when it comes to football. I have started realizing that when it comes to our team allegiance in life, it happens too often.
Two big rivalries we have here in America are Team American Dream v. the Dream Team. Confused? Let me explain. The first team is pretty self-explanatory. Everyone know Team American Dream. Start from nothing, work hard, pull yourself up out of the slums and become a wealthy self-made person of importance. You have all the pleasures life in America has to offer. A new state-of-the-art phone every 6 months, multiple houses, fancy cars, trips all over the world, and not a worry to be seen. Team American Dream has it made. Then, there is the Dream Team consisting of 3 major VIP's: God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Looking at the past playbook of the Dream Team and you see that they have been able to pull of some miracles when no one thought it would be possible. This team has been around for a long time, consistently doing a good job, but sticking to the simpler, tried and true way of things. This team isn't flashy, or glamorous and they tend to accomplish things in their own time, but, they always finish what they set out to achieve. These are the two team and they are at odds with one another. They don't see from each other's point of view and are both sure that their way of doing things is the right way. However, unlike the fans you see decked out in school colors at a tailgate party, the fans of these two teams tend to forget just who it is they root for.
So many times we see people who don the colors and symbols of Team God, yet they root for the philosophy of Team More? Let me just be upfront and tell you that this is something I do all the time. I wear a cross around my neck, but constantly subscribe to get-rich-quick schemes that lead nowhere. I wear a saved by grace shirt to the grocery store but send dirty looks to the woman driving the car that I feel I deserve to have. I put $5 in the basket at church because I spent the rest of my money on a steak and margarita, even though I have food at home and shouldn't mix alcohol with my antidepressants. I say to the world that I am Dream Team all the way, but find myself cheering for the glitz and glamour of team American Dream.
But, Amanda! That isn't like Michigan v. Ohio! That is like NC State v Carolina Panthers! They aren't rivals, they are in completely different leagues! Besides, what's wrong with wanting some of the nicer things in life? What is bad about going from poor to rich by working hard?
Matthew 6:24 tells us "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can not serve both God and money." That sounds an awful lot like "you can't root for both teams".
It is hard, I know. There is a part of me that longs for a full bank account so I never have to worry about bills. There is a part of me that wants the power and notoriety that comes with being a successful politician. There is even a vain part of me that wants the best clothing, cars, jewelry, makeup, and homes available to the world. Actually, throw in a maid, driver, and personal pilot and the fantasy is complete. The only problem is that that fantasy relies 100% on money. Your faith in completely in money. Money will provide for you, money will help you, money will care for you, money will catch you when you fall. There is no room for God or any other member of the Dream Team when you put your hope, faith, and trust in money. And it will work out fine, for a while. You will be on top of the world, not a worry anywhere, completely content. For a while. But it will eventually all come crashing down because unlike God, money isn't eternal. It is a fleeting image, a mirage that is here one minute and gone the next.
I know I probable sound preachy, but this post is more for me than anything. I struggle so much with money and desires for more. I am too easily drawn in by pretty lights and fancy advertising, it has gotten me in a lot of trouble, more than once.
There is a story in the bible about a wealthy man who gave 3 of his workers money and told them to take care of it and he would check in with them when he arrived home from a trip. 2 of his workers did well with the money and had more to give their boss when he returned. One had hidden the money and gave the exact amount back to his boss, not an increase. The boss was not happy about this. In bible study, you are asked to think about which of these workers you would be. Would you increase what was given to you, or would you sit on it. After much reflection, I have to say neither. I would be the 4th worker given money by my boss. When he returned I wouldn't have more money to give him or even the same amount. I would be the worker out on the streets because I had returned a few leftover coins from my impulsive shopping spree. The 3rd worker is looking pretty good right now.
I struggle everyday with trying to rely on God for my needs, opposed to trying every scheme in the book to take care of things myself. In this world, we are taught that money can take care of you. Money brings happiness, money brings stability, and money brings relief. We are rarely told that money is a piece of paper that has nearly nothing of real value to back it up. We are never told that God can provide all that and more without the stress, anxiety, and troubles that money carries with it. When I am feeling depressed, it is hard for me to pray. I am depressed, I don't feel like talking to anyone, including God. You know what isn't hard? Putting things into my Amazon cart and clicking the buy button. that is very easy. And boy, oh boy, does it feel good in that moment. I just bought myself a present that will be delivered in a few days. It's like Christmas all year long. But then the guilt come and the rush to come up with some sort of justification to my husband about why these purchases were necessary. It is a predictable cycle, I've seen this game before.
And after all that, I am still depressed. Depressed and broke.
I recently started reading my bible more often. As you know from my last post, my bible and I aren't very well acquainted. It is hard to get in the mood to read it and when I do, I don't often understand what I am reading. However, one thing I have noticed, I never feel guilty or depressed afterwards. It isn't as glamorous as getting a new toy in the mail, but it never has the inevitable let down that comes with relying on money and possessions for happiness. This is a struggle for me every single day. My flesh longs for the pleasures that come with the American Dream, but as sure as the sun rises, the Dream Team wins every time.